tv Life and Career of Senator Amy Klobuchar CSPAN February 23, 2014 9:00pm-9:36pm EST
was in recess last week. prime minister's questions will not be shown tonight. you can watch "question time" when it returns on wednesday on re-air or watch its they on c-span. c-span.sunday on >> we bring public affairs events from washington directly to you, putting you in the room at congressional hearings, white house events, briefings and conferences, and offering complete coverage of the u.s. house, all as a public service of private industry. we are c-span, created by the cable tv industry and funded by cable or tv provider. tv, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter. >> coming up next, the "american profile" series.
first, senator bob corker, followed by amy klobuchar. that, a discussion about issues facing today's labor unions. then, another chance to see "q&a ". >> next, a conversation with corker,e senator bob currently serving his second term. he talks about his early career in business, his family, and his life in the u.s. senate. >> senator bob corker, when did you first think about moving from business to politics? leading an effort in our community to try to make sure that everyone had an opportunity for a decent fit as a civic endeavor.
i ended up going on a rail board at the state level. it just sort of migrated. i had sold my first company at the age of 37 and a few years later decided it was something i wanted to pursue. >> your first company was construction? >> i had started working like most folks look -- when i was 13 doing all kinds of odds and ends and migrated to being a construction laborer and a rough carpenter when i graduated from college. i ended up being a construction superintendent so after four some regionalilt models around the country and learned how to build projects and i saved $8,000 so when i was 25 i went in business.
i started doing a lot of repeat work, small projects where i could be paid quickly and the company grew at about 80% a year the whole time, ended up living shopping centers around the country, retail projects in 18 energizing, its was a great place to be. the energy when you come into the front door would almost knock you down. to he that when i was 37 a man who had worked with me for many years. and of course have done several things cents. i ended up acquiring a good deal of real estate through the years through portfolios and other companies. i love being in business. i loved everything i have ever done. click some ask you about malls and plazas and developments like that. how do you have a vision to say we're going to put this here? >> yeah.
in the beginning up until i was 37, mostly what i did was build projects for other people and then began owning the projects myself. center, youpping basically know that a particular tenant wants to be in a location so you try to find a place that you think will work and overtime you option property and end up negotiating the lease and then build the project and of course, end upure out, you having architects and others involved with you that cause it to evolve in the right way but i will tell you that being a developer, being a builder really helped me in my first public office, elected office being mayor of a city and that is to be able to create a vision, a bold vision and to put the pieces in place to make it happen. i really do think that that helped me tremendously in being the mayor of chattanooga. even though this is a
legislative job i think it has helped me here in trying to put the pieces together to make things happen. >> a lot of midsized cities are struggling. what is different in chattanooga? chattanooga is the greatest community. i love it and i represent the whole state of tennessee, the whole state is different. i could not be more proud of it. i gave a talk in marietta, georgia the other day about how tender the became the -- chattanooga became the way it was. i became so emotional about my hometown. chattanooga was one of the things that -- what is unique is our city has been able to keep the civic, business, and cultural center downtown. so many cities across our country have not. we have a lot of dntrepreneurialism there an some great manufacturing especially recently rate --
brought in a great company. it is filled with people who are so unique. people who give of themselves to make other people's lives better. it is a very unique place in that regard. if you look at the outdoor amenities, i just yesterday rode my bike with my wife elizabeth along the riverfront which again, as a community, we is an outstanding place to live. i do not know about community that has a better quality of life in america than chattanooga. it interesting thing is, keeps getting better. we have been able to build on the successes of people who have come before us and i could not be more proud of the people of my community and i could not love living there more than i do. >> so based on that, what advice as you look at other communities, larger cities like detroit certainly suffering a series of problems separate than
what you faced in chattanooga. how do you turn around a downtown area? man in my 30 plus -- 30's who gave me some advice. he built the city of columbia from scratch in maryland. acresut and bought 15,000 or whatever and bought -- build the city from scratch. at a time when i was getting as a civic leader. i know i would be successful with my first company. i went on a mission trip to haiti and it affected me in a huge way and i wanted to be part of helping make my city a better place. that process.e in what he told me his true. bold vision. a not a small vision.
even if you just get 80% of the way done, you still accomplished so much more than if you have a small vision and you achieve it. the other thing i would say to people who are mayors of cities is, do not do a plan and let it sit on a shelf. plan on making it happen. i think that is what has made chattanooga so unique. when i was mayor and so many people have done things of equal significance in our community, we created a vision to do a 21st-century waterfront plan and built it, came up with the idea, the funding, developed it and built it in 35 months and when citizens see that you're going to carry something out, that you're not going to just create a study or a vision and let it sit on the shelf, you carry it out and make it real. what that does is it energizes the city and they want more. again, create a vision, get your
community involved, and when you lay out what you are going to do something, do it. again we have been so fortunate to have that happen over and over again in our community. >> he ran for the senate once and lost in a primary. what did you learn from defeat? >> i did run in a primary back in 1994. there were six of us in the republican primary. [inaudible] won the race. thehe should have, he was better candidate. if you run the right way and we did, bill frist and i became great friends and he recruited me to run for his seat when he left 12 years later. i think what i learned is, if you run the right way you never lose. meaning that the experience itself enriches you as a person. just the experience of going around the state with 95 counties and meeting citizens and seeing where they are in life and understanding what motivates people, you cannot run
an elective race like that and run the right way and lose. that was what i learned. candidly, i did not ever think i would run for united states senate again. i ended up being in an appointed position after that. that kind of validates what i am saying. a newly elected governor asked me to serve and his cabinet as a result of the wave the race was one. and told the gentleman i was going to leave the day i started and ended up going back into business and people in my community am a our community asked me to run for mayor and i did. i did not expect to do anything electorally after that. i really did not and then bill came down and talked about the fact he was retiring. i think people who offer themselves for public office and ,o about it in the right way
and semi-people do, i think it is hard to not take away something from an effort like that that makes you a better person. >> based on that, who are your role models? >> you know, i do not know. know, i have taken a little bit from a lot of folks. i do not know if there is anybody that is in particular a role model. i love serving with them are exile under -- lamarr alexander. my colleague. to know howard baker through the years. there are so many people who have -- i take a little bit from everyone. i do not know that i could say there was anybody who was my perfect role model. >> if you look at howard baker -- lamarr alexander
and your brand of politics, is it different from other states or legislators? >> i do not think so. when you say different, what do you mean by that? >> you are not aligned with the tea party, you are often viewed as the bridge between democrats and republicans. >> yeah. i look at myself as a true fiscal conservative. i really do. mean, we havei laid out those stuff things that need to happen to save our nation. justnot talking about laying them out rhetorically. we have written bills that have the tough medicine in them that lay out what needs to happen to make sure that the entitlement programs that semi-people depend upon are solvent over the next 75 years. that our country is saved in the process. i think one of the things that
would make me unique possibly in our state is the fact that i was a real business person. so many people say they were in wasness but, i mean, i really in business and build a company that operated around our nation and understand what it takes to go through that. i look at myself as a significant and serious this will conservative. at the same time, i understand --t the goal is to make the gains. to make our country stronger along the way. i do not know what brand, to use your word, politics that would be. i really do consider it a tremendous privilege to be here and i wake up every day trying to make our country stronger. one of the things i hope you will never interview me about is taking cheap political shots or trying to make it about me. i really do wake up every day
knowing again, our citizens across tennessee have given me a responsibility to wake up and to of political i have to advance our nation to a better place, so i do not know what rent of politics that would be. >> do this cheap shots occur in the senate? >> gosh, yes. i think yeah, there is no question, obviously. i will leave it at that. i think that if you look at the role that outside groups have begun to play and the effect that it can have on people that are otherwise sensible, thoughtful people, and how people can end up being pushed in positions that you are -- you know that our not advancing our country's interest, things -- that certainly has an effect. human, nobody is
here is without having made some mistakes, but i do try to resist, if you will, with every ounce of energy i have. i try to resist forces that wish you in a direction that certainly are not about making our country stronger. >> if you could fix the senate as an institution, what would you change? senate does not really need fixing. i think the way the senate has been set up by our forefathers should work. herenk that people coming really attempting to be great united states senators versus potentially using the united states senate as an operation to do something else, that has
nothing to do with the great united states senator. that is taking the problems and issues we have and taking them iad-on and to try to stretch, find so many and it happens at the white house, too. i find folks being afraid of trying to stretch their base and trying to get to a place where .ou actually solve a problem and to me, having political support is all about trying to if we could stretch some, we can get to a place that makes our country stronger and still live within the principles that respect -- respect of folks ran on. there seems to be more recently, it has not it about that, i will
put it that way. let me say this. there are a lot of really great people here. i will say this. i came appear with a healthy disrespect of the united states senate. frustrationse are of serving in the united states senate. i know it is sometimes difficult for the american people to see this, but there are some outstanding people here who wake up every day really trying to advance our country and move it ahead. sometimes i wish the american people could see more of that publicsome of the efforts that have in some cases nothing to do with that. >> is the republican party, is the base more narrow than it should be at the moment? x i have always said republican party is a big tent party. to me, i have always looked and i do not want to be offensive to
my friends on the other side of the aisle but i have always thought the republican party was the party that should try to be the adult when it comes to making tough decisions. especially when it comes to fiscal issues and those kind of things that make our country stronger room generation to generation. get quibbling from the other side. likee -- have always felt what it came down to making the tough decision, that is what the republican party was about. that --n, attacks to this is about ensuring that people have opportunities to better themselves. i do not think we talk near enough about the second part. to me in many ways we have not done enough yet about the first part. i do think people back home sometimes forget republicans
only have one third of government right now and sometimes it is difficult. when you think about the fact that over the last two years we actualal reductions in spending that have taken place and tax policy has been fixed for individuals, something that did not happen when george bush was here and had both the house and senate, we were not able to do that and that was done for 99% of the people of the country -- in the country. strides have been taken. i do not think we focus near enough on ensuring that we are the party of opportunity, too. forget our goal here is to try to make sure that every day where doing things that improve people's quality of life and they have the opportunity if they are willing to put out the effort to enhance family'silies --
opportunity and situation in life. that is what brought me into this. again, that is what brought me into the public arena was working on an issue that i really thought was going to affect people in a real way. in my home town of chattanooga. this was a civic and does her -- endeavor. i was able to see that and i felt the same way as the commissioner 5 -- of finance. can havehat again, you things -- i never did a business deal with anybody and feel like i did some pretty significant ones for guy who started with $8,000 in savings. i never did one where the person on the other side of the table said we will do it exactly the way you just said. there was a negotiation that took place and obviously, for me to have
entered into that transaction, i must have felt there was something that was good for me that was coming out of that. i assume that the person on the other side of the table must have felt there was something good for them that was coming out of it. i think sometimes that part is forgotten about here, too. >> let me ask about your own family. growing up where in tennessee, how many mothers and sisters and described her parents. >> chattanooga, tennessee. we lived in south carolina when i was a younger person. my dad was transferred over and he was an engineer at dupont. he was transferred when i was 10 or 11. my sister is to got -- two years younger. i have a wonderful wife named elizabeth who grew up on a farm. we have two daughters, julie and emily that are roughly, depending on when this airs, 25 and 24.
the 25-year-old is married to someone she met here on han -- on our staff. my younger daughter is living in new york. she is product development manager with the program -- with theseany that makes shabby stylish handbags and the proceeds go to feed people in africa. that is the most important thing in life is that they are productive and doing well and happy with who they are. .s individuals elizabeth is happier than she has ever been. i am gone for days a week now and appear and i see that in jest. i am fortunate to be married to someone who would allow me to do what i am doing and to be such a strong-willed, good person.
i feel very fortunate with .aving the family that i have that is the kind of thing you care about on a daily basis. >> how did you meet your wife? >> i met her on a blind date. she was doing interior is what shehich still does some of. my best friends kept saying, you have got to take this person out and somehow or another we ended up on a blind date. my best friends kept and cap dating from that point on. >> did you grew up in a political family, did your parents talk politics? >> no. when i first began making of running for public office, i literally went out to my parents ' home and apologize to them.
i am tied of embarrassed but i am thinking about running for the united states senate. my dad ended up over time, he ended up serving as the mayor of a small town, it was nothing like a political job, i assure you. he ran an ad for $25 and the local people and got more votes than anybody else and served as mayor for four years. after i had was decided to run for the united states senate. so no. that is not what we talked about. my dad was a little league ateball coach and worked dupont. we went to sunday school and did all those things that people in middle class families do. --tainly in politics politics was not something we talked about. i love business, i really did and i still get excited when i hear one of my friends or someone else for some big deal they are getting to work on -- getting ready to work on. andve cemex -- some success
it has allowed me to serve in a way that i think is very unique. as much as i love this this and i did not come from a political family and all, i really do cherish the fact that i am able to weigh in on issues that are very important to people across state and country. >> one of those issues is a member of the senate foreign relations committee. you have been to how many countries? >> i have not counted recently. i would say i've been to state . >> one of those issues is a member of the senate foreign 56, 57, 58 countries. many of them multiple times. i have been to pakistan four times, iraq four times, afghanistan, four times. repeat visits, turkey, syrian border multiple times. over time you certainly absorb a to ind as you are alluding think, here i was a mayor and a business guy who built shopping centers around our country and i
am now the ranking member on foreign relations and it has taken a lot of quiet work and a lot of travel in the last six and a half years to feel like i will inability, if you a small way to be helpful in that effort. >> when you went to haiti as a citizen, not as a senator, what did you see western mark -- what did you say? business 24n in years and i knew i would be successful. i went with a church group, they needed someone who knew something about construction. what i saw was just people in such need who were so grateful for any kind of assistance that people were willing to give. i not only saw grateful people andhad the biggest smiles lived in such dire poverty, but also saw that the people who were really helped were the people who went on the trip to
help others. able in a small way to help these families in need. i think everyone of us left impacted in a way that affected the entire rest of our lives. know of the parables and sometimes reverse of what you think may happen happens and certainly in that case, i was the one who was helped, not the people i was there to help. >> how do you think the world views america today? talk prettyhink we negatively about our country and lets face it, we have ourselves down and let the world down. i think we are viewed with tremendous strengths. we are still the greatest economy in the world. if you look at leaders around the world they want their kids
to college. country.ill respected coming into work today i bumped into a lady who was getting to do a publication for a chinese audience. i do think that our inability to deal with fiscal issues has really affected us in ways beyond just our own economy. to do a publication for a chinese audience. it really has. i was just recently in china, japan, and south korea. the chinese look at us as being not as competent as we otherwise might be. our allies are worried about whether we will be able to live up to the obligations that we have agreed to. point wherere at a all of us who have some effect on where our country is headed should take notice and realize we are not living up to the standards that we lived up to and most cases in the past. we need to get our act together
and we need to solve these problems, we need to again to move away from governing by crisis and act far more responsibly in what we are doing . we need to realize the rest of the world is watching and as the greatest nation on earth, continue to flounder in these ways i think it makes the world itself a less safe place. >> how do we get there? going throughare a low point right now in dealing with our country's issues. countries, companies, individuals go through cycles. i think that we obviously have been at a low point in that regard. i feel a critical mass of people building at least here who want to rise to the occasion and again, so much of it, the
american people have more to do with that than they think. we look out across our country and people on one hand say, look how divided congress is. look how divided our country is, too, and whether people want to elected, back home, representatives and up reflecting the more fully than they think. our nations -- i think the financial crisis that happened in 2000 eight was a blow. shattered some people's feelings about free enterprise, certainly not mine. we are going to have to build back from that. our best days are in front of us. i believe our best days are in front of us but we have got to again again as elected officials reason our that the country is so great today is the -- those people who came before
us ensured that and they were willing to make sacrifices to ensure that people who came after them had a better life, and certainly the generation that is leading right now is doing a much better job of that. >> let me conclude on the snow. what is next for bob corker? -- in national office, being on a ticket? what else do you want to do? >> i have always lived by this sort of life standard that you do the best job you can at the job you're in and everything else will take care of itself. i really wake up every day wanting to be the most impactful united states senator i can be towards making our country stronger and not to make it about myself but to make the things we focus on those things country to be stronger and i do not have anything on my mind right now other than that. a goodtinuing to be
parent, a good husband, and hopefully, a good citizen. >> any advice from your wife on this? is very apolitical, i assure you and very unique for a public official's spouse. so fresh, so strong in so many ways. that i think she likes the way that i serve and she likes the independents with which we both are able to live at present. we both know what a privilege that is and i think she would just cheer me on and ask me to please continue to take on the toughest issues we have. >> >> next, a conversation with amy
klobuchar. she talks about speculation about a possible run for higher office. when did you first think about running for elected office? >> my first office was in high school when i was on the student council. back then, the girls would -- class president, sadly. i was the secretary-treasurer of the high school class and my claim to fame was that i coordinated the lifesaver lollipop drive to raise money for the high school prom. it may not have been a major ideological battle but we really did not have enough money for the prom and i was able to raise enough. by the time it got to be a senior the juniors failed at their job and we had to have it in a shopping mall and we danced around the fountain and my date went in the fountain with someone else so that was locally
not the end of my political career, but it was the first time that i ran for office. i got involved in politics, ran worked with walter mondale. it was a defining moment to run for major office. in my case it was county attorney. when our daughter was born and she was very sick and she could not swallow. it was at a time when they had the insurance role in place that you could only stay in the hospital for 24 hours, a mother could. she was sick, she was in intensive care and they did not know what was wrong. i got kicked out after being up all night with her. and so she was in the hospital for quite a while in her first year. one of the things i did as a citizen was i went to the legislature and worked for some of the legislatures -- legislators and testified in it was one of the first bills that guaranteed new mothers and babies of 48 hour hospital stay. after that i was pretty hoped
that you could get something done and i took on the companies who were tried to slow down, i brought six pregnant women to the conference committee because they were trying to have it take place later knowing that they were against it and the outnumbered the lobbyists two to one. to run for office. >> your daughter is how old now? >> our daughter is 18. >> how is she doing? what she is doing great. she has a really rough first few years and she was fed for a stomach tube through the first year and got better and better and it is -- she was an incredible girl and did well in school. we're pretty proud of her. >> you became county attorney and one of the things you worked on was to make sure that drunk driving was a felony. my question is, why was that even an issue? >> minnesota was one of the few